Running Out of Time

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2017 was the second hottest year on record. Photo c/o http://www.tbo.com

We can no longer ignore the effects of climate change. We are often reminded by environmentalist and experts alike that our planet is already suffering due to our neglect of the environment

At the first week of this year, we were greeted with the news from the Copernicus Climate Change Service that another record was broken in 2017 is it was the second hottest year only next to 2016.  

The agency noted that 2017 was “cooler than the warmest year on record, 2016, and warmer than the previous second warmest year, 2015,” since temperatures of last year averaged 14.7 degrees Celsius at the at the Earth’s surface.

 In an interview with Reuters,  head of Copernicus Jean-Noel Thepaut stressed that scientific consensus point to man-made emission as the cause of the global warming trend: “ “It’s striking that 16 of the 17 warmest years have all been this century.”

Those who have been following news about climate change are no longer surprised by this piece of information from Copernicus.

 Late last year, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said that the earth’s temperature for 2017 was likely to be one of the hottest on record based on the first nine months of the year, just slightly cooler than in 2016 when El Nino made the temperature rise to record-breaking levels.

Petteri Taalas, secretary general of the WMO back then emphasized that “The past three years have all been in the top three years in terms of temperature records. This is part of a long-term warming trend. We have witnessed extraordinary weather, including temperatures topping 50C in Asia, record-breaking hurricanes in rapid succession in the Caribbean and Atlantic reaching as far as Ireland, devastating monsoon flooding affecting many millions of people and a relentless drought in East Africa.

Aside from the earth’s temperature, there is another indicator showing how neglectful we have been on our planet

According to the United Nation’s weather flagship annual report, The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, the increase of the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in 2017 was at record speed, hitting a level that has not been reached for more than three million years.

The global average concentration of CO2 hit 403.3 parts per million (ppm) in 2016, up by 3.3 ppm in 2015 “because of a combination of human activities and a strong El Niño event.”

 UN’s report emphasized that it was around three to five million years ago when the Earth last experienced the same CO2 concentration rates.

 And just like the world’s temperature, the global average concentration of CO2 in 2017 is likely lower than the 2016 levels, but will still break records.

 Indeed, our planet is suffering from our lack of care for it. And experts agree that the world has to speed up the countermeasures needed to mitigate the risks of global warming. The head of UN Environment Erik Solheim said it best: “The numbers don’t lie. We are still emitting far too much and this needs to be reversed.”

 We are indeed breaking records. The wrong ones at that. It is time to swiftly act if we are serious in our fight against climate change.

 We should be alarmed by the numbers being presented to us. Unfortunately, our own records show that we are far from taking action in helping the global fight against climate change.

Data from the DOE shows that coal still accounted for almost half of our energy needs in 2016.  We are still in our business- as usual scenario, as there will be more coal power plants in the next decade. Roughly 90 percent of 7,300 MW of the planned power projects are coal as noted by the BMI Research of the Fitch Group.

 It is time to act now and take drastic measures to mitigate the effects of climate change. We may not be one of the world’s top polluter, but we need to remember that developing countries especially those who are prone to disasters such as the Philippines are the ones who suffer most because of everyone’s neglect of the environment.  

 Senator Loren Legarda raised strong points in her speech delivered during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23) last year where she urged nations to implement the needed but painful measures to help the environment. “We have all heard the saying that what is ‘difficult is done at once’ but that ‘the impossible takes a little longer.’ But we are running out of time. We have to do both the difficult and the impossible at once.”

 Yes, we need to do the almost impossible task of paving the way for the renewable energy sector to flourish for the survival of the planet. May our local energy government officials heed the words of the good senator as the Philippines– a country that’s rich in natural resources– has been slow in increasing the share of renewables in its power mix.

 We need a stronger political will and resolve to ensure that we achieve our goal of shifting to cleaner forms of energy to help save our environment. After all, we are running out of time.

 References:

 https://www.rappler.com/science-nature/environment/188779-legarda-speech-cop23-bonn-germany

 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/nov/06/2017-set-to-be-one-of-top-three-hottest-years-on-record

 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/30/global-atmospheric-co2-levels-hit-record-high

 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-climatechange-temperatures/2017-was-second-hottest-year-on-record-after-sizzling-2016-report-idUSKBN1ET1JF

2 thoughts on “Running Out of Time

  1. This is true Guido. I am also troubled by what specific things could be done to mitigate in a significant way. Studies have shown that although clean power generation is important (and must be undertaken), it only has marginal impact. For example, massive amounts of methane (a more potent global warming gas than CO2) is released from rice paddy fields. No solution seems to exist

    Liked by 1 person

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